Customer Service Tips

Improving Customer Relationships in Financial Services

Written by Cory Thompson for Gaebler Ventures

It's hard to overestimate the importance of an effective system of follow up when dealing with clients. Not only will it increase client satisfaction -- but will help your business as well.

There are few things that can have a greater impact on client retention and prevent numerous problems than having a system of effective and timely follow up after meeting with clients in the financial services arena.

If you are contemplating entering the financial services industry, one of the things that may surprise you is the large gap that exists between what you think you told your clients and what they believed you said.

This problem becomes even more pronounced when you work with individuals that lack any recent or relevant experience working with financial products, or that have a natural tendency to avoid monetary issues. (after all - that's why they are interested in hiring you)

Combine that with the fact that many products offered by financial companies are extremely complicated (annuities and permanent life products, options and wrap accounts for example) and you have created a perfect storm to destroy a relationship with a valuable client. Furthermore - unhappy clients are significantly more likely to complain to their friends and family, as well as lodge a formal complaint with compliance or a regulatory agency.

As a financial advisor - what can be done to help avoid the loss of trust you work so hard to build with your clients? One thing that worked extremely well for me was an accurate and timely follow-up letter.

How is this to be done?

Step 1: take good notes in your meetings.

I had the opportunity to observe hundreds of meetings as a manager for a large financial services company, and I was surprised how often a junior advisor conducting a session neglected to take accurate notes of the appointment.

If you as a responsible and knowledgeable advisor are not able to maintain an accurate account of what was said and presented in a meeting - how do you ever expect your clients to?

Step 2: Dedicate time daily to transcribing your notes.

I was struck by the fact that even well written notes were not able to capture everything. The solution to this is to allocate 30 minutes to an hour each day to review your handwritten notes and transcribe them to an electronic format.

The earlier this occurs - the greater the likelihood of accuracy. This action also has two benefits - it provides a copy for your personal files to refer to at later appointment, and it also helps the advisor clarify what happened in the meeting for himself prior to dealing with any potential inquiries from clients.

Step 3: Send a copy of your notes to you client immediately.

I cannot stress the importance of this step. I am unable to count the number of times a potential disaster was averted because of prompt follow up.

Just as you will have higher information retention by transcribing your notes daily - your clients will also be more prone to recall the events of the meeting and the actions they agreed to take if they receive a "reminder" within a few days.

Perhaps even more importantly - clients will be able to review the events and call you if they find anything out of order. This is hugely important in preventing future problems and helping you retain your credibility.

Cory Thompson enjoys writing about topics of interest to entrepreneurs and small business owners. He is an MBA graduate from Weber State University and is currently working as a contracting officer at Hill Air Force Base in Roy, Utah.

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